The newly-named Eventim Apollo – previously known as Hammersmith Apollo – has been a successful entertainment venue for 80 years since opening as the Gaumont Palace Cinema in 1932. Having recently undergone an extensive refurbishment under Foster Wilson Architects, the venue has now been rejuvenated with a distinctive new bar and lobby space.
The central motivation for the refurbishment was to increase seated and standing capacity, bringing more audience members into both the venue and the local area in order to boost business all round.
In terms of the venue’s hospitality spaces, the client wished to enhance customer experience, while nevertheless ensuring that the new aesthetic was sympathetic with the original character of the building.
“A major focus of the refurbisment was a return to the original colour scheme,” explains Jonathan Size, associate at Foster Wilson Architects. “We undertook extensive investigative work with a historic paint specialist who was able to take samples and identify the original colour and tones hidden below many layers of paint. This was then fully reproduced with only minor adjustments in some areas to reflect modern lighting levels or new functions in spaces.”
Efforts to preserve the beauty of this Grade II* structure certainly uncovered some hidden gems, which the team was keen to reincorporate into its scheme to enhance its distinct and authentic aesthetic.
“We undertook a lot of restoration work and stripping back,” says Jonathan. “It was baffling to find that marble door surrounds and mahogany doors and frames had been hidden by red or brown paint, and stunning features like the foyer terazzo floor had been latex screeded and then carpeted over.”
Recalling the art deco era of this former cinema, the carpets were taken from a 1930s pattern book owned by Brintons Carpets, while the colourways were adjusted to complement the overall scheme. This same balance was achieved for the new bars and counters, which were designed to reflect the style of the building despite being contemporary additions.
Of course, lighting played an integral role in enhancing the bar and lobby areas, and entailed quite a transformation of the existing fittings.
“The original lighting was poor, and did nothing to show off the fantastic spaces and original features,” Jonathan explains. “Therefore, a new wireless full (RGBW) LED colour-changing lighting scheme was designed by James Morse Lighting.
“This is effectively a 21st century replication of the original three-bulb 1930s system that was housed in the ceilings but has long since been removed. Any original fittings were refurbished and then re-lamped with new LED lighting, and any missing fittings were replicated based on original photos.”
Far from a mere overhaul of the existing colour scheme, then, the project entailed a great deal of research, planning and expertise to create a space fitting of the building’s architectural beauty and, of course, fitting of its rich history as a venue that has played host to many legendary artists.